New Realities: A Somali-British Doctor’s Experiences On The Frontline In The UK

For millions of people across the world, the global pandemic has changed people’s normal daily structures. From working to travelling to socializing, the spread of the COVID-19 virus has drastically altered how we all live. We at The Haybad wanted to find out how Somali women have been coping with these changes.

The current global pandemic has had an immense effect on everyone, especially on those who are working on the frontlines in their respective countries. Dr. Asha, a second-year doctor in the United Kingdom, has seen the reality of the virus up close for months now. “It’s been getting really busy recently with the rising cases and the north-west of England being particularly badly affected”, Dr. Asha tells us. The UK records tens of thousands of new daily cases, even though the government has imposed renewed national restrictions.

A majority of practising healthcare providers have had their daily schedules completely changed due to the increasing numbers of infected patients in their hospitals. Dr. Asha has experienced this too. “I’ve had my rota completely changed to assist with the Covid crisis and went from doing 9-5 hour days in the General Practice to 12-hour shifts on the Covid wards.”.

According to a Medscape global survey on doctor’s experiences with treating Covid positive patients and working under amplified stressful conditions, 65% of UK doctors stated that feelings of job-related burnout had become more intense. Dr. Asha has inevitably experienced working under such difficult conditions. “You don’t realise how much a smile can change someone’s day until your patients can’t see you smile anymore. You don’t realise how difficult it is to deliver bad news to families over the phone instead of in-person”, she tells us. “We’ve had to train ourselves to have these conversations over the phone instead of in-person. We were no longer able to communicate directly to families and use our body language and human touch to really convey empathy and support.”

After months of uncertainty on how to treat the deadly virus, there seems to be a glimmer of hope with the announcement of a possible vaccine. Pfizer, an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation together with BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, developed a Covid-19 vaccine which has shown great results in the clinical trials. Following this news, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the National Health Service (NHS) is setting up coronavirus vaccination centres across the UK in preparation for the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Despite all the hardships and challenges, Dr. Asha remains high-spirited. Working in a Covid ward proved to be an eye-opening experience for the young doctor which highlighted how truly important the NHS is for people in the UK. “In the face of adversity we’ve all come together to work our hardest to deliver excellent patient care despite these hard times. And that makes me really proud to work as a health care professional”, Dr. Asha says.

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